It has been said that there are two certain things in life: death and taxes. When you have a plot of land in your real estate portfolio and there really isn’t anything that can be done with it financially, then knowing how to open a cemetery might be a good alternative. The business of death is insulated against recessions and depressions because people die every day. People need what you’ve got.
Creating a cemetery isn’t necessarily a simple process. There can be a lot of legal work that needs to be completed and there must be a 100% commitment to land usage in this manner. Once a plot of land is designated as a cemetery, it is going to stay that way for virtually all of eternity. If you’ve made the decision and you’re ready to get started, then here’s what you’ve got to do.
1. Bring On Legal Counsel That Is Familiar With The Death Industry.
There are a number of local zoning requirements that must be navigated when opening a new cemetery. A complete plan of use must often be submitted before the local counsel. Having a crematorium or a mausoleum on site will also required different zoning permissions. It is recommended that at least $25k be set aside to take care of the legal maneuverings that are required to get the cemetery started.
2. Consider The Location Of Your Plot Of Land.
Most cemeteries need to be located within 20 miles of a population base in order for it to be an effective business opportunity. Sometimes another cemetery won’t be welcomed because family members have already been buried at another site and that’s where everyone else wants to be buried as well. If there are other cemeteries in place that have enough space to support the population center, then this won’t necessarily be a great entrepreneurial venture.
3. Make Your Cemetery Stand Out In Some Way.
Cemeteries are often a place for solemn remembrance, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can create an environment with your land that is joyful, unique, and celebratory. Some cemeteries hold events on the land for relatives of those who are buried within the grounds such as an Easter egg hunt or a summer picnic. Others will use modern technologies to play family videos to help remember those who have passed on. If your cemetery doesn’t stand out, then the heritage issues from the step above will often be problematic.
4. Go Green.
One of the latest options for cemeteries is to provide a more environmentally friendly burial. Pods are sold that can help someone be turned into a tree over time. Other cemeteries have been turned into nature preserves. The key to going green with a cemetery is to promote having bodies not be embalmed while using caskets that are biodegradable. This allows families to have the traditional burial services while supporting the new business of an eco-cemetery.
5. Plan On This Being a 10 Year Investment At Minimum.
The average length of time it takes for a cemetery to turn a profit is about 10 years. This is because there are so many upfront investments that need to happen for a cemetery to even open up for business. Landscaping, road maintenance, and other upkeep needs all have added costs above the initial structuring. For one Hollywood cemetery, they spend $25,000 per month on irrigation alone.
6. Figure Out The Capacity.
For a traditional cemetery, the amount of of plots that it can hold is roughly 1,250 per acre. If all plots are given double capacity, it means a cemetery can hold about 2,500 individuals per acre. In comparison, eco-cemeteries may hold as few as 30 plots per acre. By figuring out your capacity, you’ll be able to know what the value of each plot happens to be. Along the West Coast, a plot might run $11,000. In the Midwest, a cemetery might be lucky to get $500 for the same kind of plot.
7. Have a Plan For Once The Cemetery Is Full.
The problem that cemeteries face is that eventually all of the land will be sold and the plots will be full. There’s an expectation that the cemetery will continue maintaining the grounds. In this business, customers expect to pay for the plot and for the grass above them to be cared for until the end of time.
Knowing how to open a cemetery means having a solid plan from start to finish. You can’t rip up a cemetery if it isn’t being profitable, so proceed carefully, have solid legal counsel in place, and follow these steps to have the best possible outcome.